Whole Body Vibration Training has been shown to increase muscular strength, explosive power and anabolic hormone levels when performed for as little as 4 minutes three times a week.
In addition, It requires relatively little exertion compared with traditional forms of exercise; yet studies comparing this training method to traditional strength training have found similar gains in strength and, in some cases, more gains in explosive power.
Since Whole Body Vibration Training is low impact, it may be an exceptional choice for older or obese individuals who have trouble doing traditional weight-bearing exercise.
What Is Whole Body Vibration Therapy?
Whole Body Vibration Therapy is a neuromuscular training method that uses a low- to moderate-vibration stimulus to help improve muscular strength and power. During the most commonly used mode of Whole Body Vibration Training, a client stands on a vibrating platform and performs unloaded exercises, such as squats or lunges, for durations ranging from multiple 1-minute sessions to continuous 30-minute sessions.
Additionally, the Whole Body Vibration platform generates oscillating vibrations that are delivered to the entire body. The vibrations are set at a frequency and amplitude that will provide the desired stimulus.
Frequency, measured in hertz (Hz), refers to the number of vibrations per second; at 25 Hz, the targeted muscles receive 25 cycles of vibration per second, which makes them contract and relax 25 times in the same period.
Amplitude, measured in millimeters (mm), refers to the extent of the vertical displacement of the platform during vibration. Higher frequencies and amplitudes increase the intensity of the vibrations. When a person stands on a whole body vibration machine, the lower body receives the greatest vibration stimulus; the vibration lessens as it moves up the body.
How Does Whole-Body Vibration Training Work?
The current theory is that Whole Body Vibration Therapy stimulates the body’s natural stretch reflex and as a result, causes muscle contractions in a similar way that a doctor’s tapping below a patient’s patella with a reflex hammer elicits a knee-jerk response. The stretch reflex is controlled by stretch receptors called muscle spindles that are located in skeletal muscle.
Muscle spindles are generally activated when a muscle is under a static stretch or is immediately stretched or overstretched, causing a reflex contraction of the muscle. With Whole Body Vibration Therapy, this reflex action is constantly stimulated, so a muscle continues to contract and relax until the vibration stops.
In addition, studies have reported that activation of one muscle spindle will cause a reflex contraction and relaxation in many adjacent muscles. Muscle spindles work by activating motor neurons (nerves) in the spinal cord; these neurons initiate movement by sending signals from the brain to the muscles. Voluntary activation of motor neurons is a limiting factor in muscular force production.
The improvements in muscular force production Whole Body Vibration Therapy are a direct result of increased motor neuron activation by muscle spindles, leading to increased motor unit recruitment and force production.
Long-Term Effects of Whole Body Vibration Training
A high percentage of studies suggest that Whole Body Vibration Training is just as effective as resistance training in inducing gains in muscular strength and power.
In fact, some discoveries recommend that Whole Body Vibration Training may be more effective than resistance training if the desired result is an increase in power, since Whole Body Vibration Training stimulates those hard-to-recruit fast-twitch motor units.
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